SAN FRANCISCO (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS)The new president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists wants ob.gyns. to step up their efforts to help patients with their overall wellness, including smoking cessation, help with weight control, and cardiac screening.

For many women, the ob.gyn. is their primary physician and if that physician isn’t counseling and screening for these health issues, it won’t be done at all, Dr. Mark S. DeFrancesco, the incoming president of ACOG, said during a press briefing at the organization’s annual meeting.

Dr. DeFrancesco, an ob.gyn. in Waterbury, Conn., and assistant clinical professor at the University of Connecticut, was installed as the new ACOG president on May 6. He also will serve as president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

He said that he plans to focus on population health, specifically encouraging ob.gyns. to do more to address significant preventable causes of death such as smoking and obesity, during his year-long term in office.

The idea isn’t that ob.gyns. should be treating hypertension in their offices but that they should be looking for it during the well woman visit and making appropriate referrals.

“These things should not happen on our watch,” Dr. DeFrancesco said.

He said that he plans to work with the ACOG staff to develop a toolkit for ob.gyns. that will make it easier to address these population health issues. He also plans to work with insurers to convince them to pay physicians for the time spent on this counseling.

Dr. John C. Jennings, the outgoing president of ACOG, said that Dr. DeFrancesco’s focus on population health will complement the work that ACOG has been doing over the past year in encouraging a team approach to women’s health care. For instance, if a patient needs help losing weight, physicians could partner with a dietitian. Physicians shouldn’t be expected to conquer complex health issues such as smoking and obesity on their own, he said.

“You can’t tackle those [issues] with just one physician,” Dr. Jennings said.

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